Interview with Luomo aka Vladislav Delay

Interview with Luomo aka Vladislav Delay

The finnish producer Sasu Ripatti released his fifth album via MoodMusic, the label of his finnish fellow Sasse. He is also known as Vladislav Delay, Conoco, Sistol or Uusitalo. With these projects he devotes himself to different music styles like Glitch, Ambient or even House Music. Always on the move, he challenges himself to find new musical formulas. Also his work with artists Moritz Von Oswald, Robert Owens, Apparat, Ryuichi Sakamoto and AGF already beared delicate fruits. His new album PLUS flirts with a whiff of Disco sounds, smart Pop structures, Electronica  and even old Chicago House. Some tracks live on cold synth sounds, others put forward an outstanding and soulful voice performance credited by the ominous Chicago Boys. A masterpiece.

Fortunately Sasu Ripatti took an hour for us to anwer a few questions about his new album, his attitude towards club music/the general development of electronic music and his further plans for the future. 

1. You are from Finnland, a country which is more famous for its 'Metal' bands. How did you get in contact with electronic music?

I got in touch with electronic music very late, and through Jazz and Experimental music only. My shift to "club" music happened even much later and it actually never happened really. I have my background in metal music actually, as well as in jazz, playing drums.

The main reason I got into electronic music is that I wanted to make music by myself without musicians and had to choose the equipment that would allow me to do that, and that equipment was what people were using to make "electronic music". Eventually my music also shifted towards to fit that description.

2. Finnland is a really 'dark' and 'cold' country. Did your environment rubb off on your style?

I was living in Berlin for 7 years and had to move back to Finland because to me Berlin was cold and dark place to live, too much for me to handle.

So I moved back to light. It's not even comparable how much more light there is up north. It's just a myth that it's dark all the time up north. Also when it's cold it's properly cold which I prefer much more to central European wet semi-cold. In any case, these external factors don't really influence my music. Except that I couldn't imagine making music in a Southern country where it's hot all the time. I'd stay in the beach or go fishing and not make any music.

3. Where did you create your new album 'PLUS'?

Where I live. An island called Hailuoto in Baltic Sea, near Arctic Circle.

4. What inspired you musically and spiritually while creating it?

I try to remain quite detached from musical influences when I write or produce music. But in general my musical influences come from wide range of stuff. Mainly from Jazz and Jamaican music. Luomo stuff obviously is also influenced from pop, RnB, hiphop, that sort of stuff with vocals. Spiritually I come from all over the place. I don't get "a particular influence" which then translates to an album or song. It's more transparent and wider reaching. It's a cliche to say but my influences come from life in general and all it takes and provides. I once or twice in my life had an issue of love or whatever particular thing that triggered me to write a song but that's a long time ago. I have so much inspiration and influences and experiences in my back, it's just a question of sitting down and opening the bag and it pours out and I try to grab something and make some music with it.

5. Your album refers to Disco music, early Chicago house and also Pop structures. Why did you use these paths (especially Disco with its retro synths)?

To be honest I don't know much or care much about these genres or details or definitions. For me they are the fun killer. In my book I have been using retro synths (if that's what they are called) since the first Luomo album. I can't see any real difference there. One thing though that happened with this album was that I tried to restrict myself less with regards to equipment and sound I use. I mean, I tried to push myself to use sounds and patterns I didn't use before. Maybe that's what makes the album sound to a dance music specialist more Chicago house or something but I didn't intend for it to be that way. I still try to fulfill my ideas about this pop/dance project called Luomo, the same ideas I had when I started the project. The thing is, this is the 5th album as Luomo and I don't want to repeat myself too much so i'm trying to find new ways (for me) to create that music.

6. I read that the Chicago Boys lent their voice for this album. Who are they? Have there been other collaborations?

They are two still rather unknown singers from Chicago, Justin and Kyle. They are working on their own stuff slowly. I actually don't know them so well, I got to know them via internet and invited them over to my studio for a period last winter and we recorded all the album vocals then. I wanted to work with male vocals exclusively, and also to work with vocalists who aren't super stars or anywhere near that stage.

7. I read that you are not spending your time in night clubs. Anyway you produce music for the club, how and why is that?

How I see it is I don't produce music for the clubs. I have failed on that long time ago and I haven't tried to do that since. I realized long time ago that I  can't do music for clubs and DJs and for people to dance to. It's just too homogenous and restricted formula with all the rules and expectations, for me it really kills the music. I can understand it fairly well but it just doesn't do it for me. I like music too much to compromise it for the sake that a DJ can play it. I could and can do compromises to some extend, with Luomo, but that's not enough for DJs of course. I don't fully understand why it all has become so boring and uninspiring and why DJs wouldn't play more interesting music. I believe it's partly because of the audience that demands simple and fun stuff, and partly because DJs are mainly business-oriented bunch who care for the pay check and don't want to risk their bookings but rather play what the next guy plays and what makes  the hands go up in the air with the least risk. For me that's playing it too cheap and I don't want to go there, or to be more precise I can't go there even if I wanted to. So what I do is music to dance to if you feel like it but the main thing is music, not just the thumping bass drum and repeating something simple over it. The main thing is that I can't do the pop music any other way, the club connection is still much better option than to try making a band and playing concerts and signing to a major label to get fucked over and all that. I prefer doing the music by myself, both in the studio and on stage, so the club music is the only way I can do it. Musically speaking, though, I still see it more in line with what Al Green, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Temptations, all that stuff was about. Music you can dance to but even if you don't dance to it serves as great music. I'm not saying I'm there but that's where I'm aiming at.

8. You had a lot of projects like Luomo, Vladislav Delay, Sistol, Conoco and Uusitalo. Can you explain the differences of this projects and especially explicate the Luomo project? What does it mean for you?

I can compare it to cooking and eating, for example. Even the greatest food will taste boring if you do it day after day, you need variety after all. For me to make music is the same thing. maybe it's because I like so much different kinds of music, or that I can make different kinds of music, but whatever the reason I absolutely have to make not only one kind of music but different kinds to remain interested and challenged and inspired.

So that leads to different project names and all that. If I do Free Jazz or Noise or Ambient Music or Pop Music with my wife or play percussion with Moritz or make the Luomo stuff, it makes no sense to put it all under one name.

Mainly it's about musical freedom I have and the names just serve the purpose. Luomo for me is to play around with pop music influences and with vocals, to make a kind of Pop Music I'd like to listen to today. The rest of the projects go more deep and experimental, some stay in somewhat rhythmical field, others go fully elsewhere. With Vladislav Delay project I try to create music that doesn't really exist yet, trying to find my personal grooves and patterns and soundscapes.

9. Can you tell us something about your own label 'Huume' that you established in 1996? What is the idea behind it and why didn't you release your album there but on Moodmusic?

I started the label actually when I was living in Berlin. back in 96/97 I only released one proper EP, and then went on to release music for other labels. I had then some misfortunes with some labels and that lead to me restart my own label in 2004, but mainly because my good friend started a distribution company also in Berlin the same time. I released my own music only and it never really was a label.

When the music business crisis started 4-5 years ago I decided to quit the label in 2008 because it wasn't anymore enough to just release the music but it actually was necessary to spend lots of time and efforts to sell even few thousand records which made no sense to me, and above all I don't have time for that. So I decided to make music and depend again on other labels to release the music. Luckily there are still great labels around!

10. You are also a member of the Moritz von Oswald Trio. How did working with Moritz von Oswald and Max Loderbauer influenced you? And how do think about working in groups?

I started my music life playing in groups so it's what comes most natural to me and I still like it a lot. I know and have worked with Moritz since I was starting basically so to be on stage with him is no big difference after all. I can't say what the influence of M&M is, I think it all fuses together in the end, bit by bit and project by project.

11. What are your plans for the future?

I will concentrate on the Vladislav Delay project more, there's a new album called "Vantaa" coming out on Raster-Noton next month and I think I'll do something more for them in the near future. I'm also starting a new project with my wife which I can't really say much about as it's just about to be born but I'm already quite excited about it.

Background information about the album:

Good Stuff:
I was working on this track 2-3 years ago with Jake from Scissor Sisters, maybe for their album or for something else.
we felt the potential in the track but couldn't get it going after all.
I took another shot at the track when i started doing the Plus album and the track just started flowing very nicely.
In general:
I work with relatively little amount of gear. So it all gets used all the time. It's almost all physical analog hardware, no soft synths and software-generated sounds.
All the songs were recorded and mixed in my studio in northern Finland, where I did the mastering as well.

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